As people’s desire to travel returns, and as the need for recognition of stellar performance continues, companies are starting to think about their corporate travel plans for 2022 and beyond. Castle has begun planning several European programs for our clients and I am excited to see that some of my favorite destinations in Europe are reopening! In order to plan the most successful events we can, we continue to be vigilant and are keeping a close watch on the different rules and parameters around international travel in each country. For more information on the latest European travel restrictions, please click here.
While Europe has hundreds of amazing destinations to explore, I’ve selected my top five European countries to host incentive events based on ease of air travel, hotel variety, and potential for special program elements.
Incentive programs are all about creating experiences that attendees may not be able to have on their own. Whether the destination itself is the selling point or you’re creating unique events, activities and experiences, our goal at Castle is to leave our attendees and clients feeling rewarded for all their hard work. That said, nothing is more daunting to your attendees than a 24-hour travel time with two layovers.
For these reasons, I’ve chosen the below five top incentive event destinations in Europe:
After the program Castle hosted in Marbella in October of 2019, the Costa del Sol officially ranks as one of my favorite places in the world. That said, Spain is also home to a variety of other cities perfect for hosting incentive events such as Barcelona, Madrid and Seville that each offer their own appeal. Accessible from most major US cities with a single flight connection, Spain has the culture, hotels, activities and cuisine to ensure a successful event. Who doesn’t love Iberian ham and sangria? On this program, Castle arranged a special group activity in the small hillside town of Mijas where attendees made their own sangria, flamenco danced in the street, learned to fight a fake bull in a historic bull ring, and stopped for traditional Spanish tapas along the way.
Back in 2017, Castle hosted an event in Lausanne that featured an evening event at the Olympic Museum and a private train ride through the alps. Attendees had the opportunity to explore the city and surrounding area around Lake Geneva in their leisure time. Stunning scenery is everywhere in Switzerland, but Geneva, Zurich, Interlaken, Montreux and Zermatt each have their own special atmosphere.
Culture, cuisine and a world-renowned wine scene make Italy one of the most sought-after European incentive destinations. From Sicily and Rome to Venice, Tuscany and Florence, Italy is home to many beautiful hotels at a variety of price points. Attendees can venture off to a private pasta making class or hike through the Cinque Terre before coming together as a group for a private evening event at a world-class vineyard.
While Paris is the obvious choice for groups in France, the Bordeaux wine region and Nice in the south of France offer alternative, less common destinations. That’s not to say that Paris doesn’t lend itself to memorable events; groups can create special experiences for attendees at a number of incredible venues by integrating the abundance of food, art, and history that makes the city famous.
One of the most accessible countries from US destinations, Portugal lends itself to a wide variety of special incentive experiences. Attendees can choose to spend a day exploring Sintra, embark on a speedboat adventure from Cascais, take a food and wine tour of Lisbon or go off-roading in Sintra National Park. Portugal also offers planners the ability to provide the increasingly popular city/countryside combo program. Attendees can spend the first few days in Lisbon before taking a scenic train or bus ride to the Porto wine country or southern coastal Algarve region for the rest of their trip.
These destinations will always be hot spots for both group and personal travel. It’s the invaluable relationships with our partners that allows Castle to plan and execute memorable programs all over the world. Next time you’re choosing a destination for your incentive program just remember – traditional destinations don’t have to mean traditional events!
Looking to plan an incentive program for your company? Learn more about Castle’s Event Management services.